WASHINGTON -- The FBI provided 'inaccurate, unclear' information to a Senate panel during confirmation hearings for Labor Secretary Raymond Donovan and withheld some allegations of organized crime links, a special committee counsel said Monday.
John Flannery, special counsel for the Senate Labor Committee, said Francis Mullen, executive director of the FBI at the time of the 1981 hearings, and FBI agent Anthony Adamski 'misled the committee.'
In a 46-page report to the committee, he said Mullen consciously withheld wiretap information about an alleged connection between Donovan and William Masselli, an organized crime figure.
Masselli headed a firm that was a subcontractor of Schiavone Construction Co., the New Jersey firm Donovan was executive vice president of before joining the Cabinet.
Flannery said the FBI's description of another Schiavone subcontractor, Irving Kantor, 'misstated and overlooked material facts.'
'In short, the FBI supplied information that was inaccurate, unclear, and too late,' Flannery said. 'Worse, while the FBI told the committee that there was nothing else to know, it withheld 'pertinent', 'significant', and 'important' information.''
FBI spokesman Roger Young said the bureau will take a 'close look' at the report's recommendations to see if the background check process can be improved.
He said the report is a 'restatement of what has been brought to our attention before and what has been the subject of considerable discussion with the Justice Department to come up with a better mousetrap.'
Following his confirmation, Donovan was investigated by a special prosecutor who determined there was 'insufficient credible evidence' to indict Donovan on any of the allegations.
Mullen has been serving as acting administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration for 20 months. His confirmation has been held up at the request of Senate Labor Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and ranking Democrat Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., pending the outcome of Flannery's probe into the FBI-Donovan controversy.
Robert Feldkamp, a DEA spokesman, said Mullen had no comment on the report.
Hatch said the report 'was not intended to rehash the allegations against Secretary Donovan.
'He has, with some spirit, I should add, come through almost two years of a procedure much more grueling than any confirmation procedure could be,' Hatch said. 'And he came through with two clearances from a special prosecuter.
'What this special counsel's report indicates is that, had the Senate had all the information presented and had we received it in a timely fashion, this country and Secretary Donovan need not have gone through the trying procedures invoked under the Ethics in Government Act,' Hatch said.
'We in the Senate should take care that no similar failing occurs in the future.'
The 46-page document specifically criticized the FBI for not telling the committee about a teletype message to FBI Director William Webster on Jan. 11, 1981 -- the day before Donovan was to testify. The message said an FBI source who 'had provided reliable information in past' reported that Donovan had 'definite ties to LCN (La Cosa Nostra) figures in a liaison capacity.'
Other allegations concerned references to Schiavone in FBI files on the disappearance of former Teamsters union President James Hoffa and a reference to Donovan in a federal investigation of sewer construction on Long Island.
Flannery said the FBI 'presumed too much when it decided what information the committee could or could not have,' instead of letting the Senate determine the relevance and credibility of the information.
The report is expected to be considered by the Senate when determining if changes should be made regarding background information various committees receive before they vote to approve confirmation of a presidential nominee.
Hatch said he expects to draft legislation to follow through on Flannery's recommendation that the FBI transmit to the Senate all data on nominees.